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Identity Crisis: Administrators Take Steps to Prevent Cheating on Standardized Tests

by Kara Coleman

Okay, be honest: Have you ever cheated on a test? Last fall, at least 20 teens in New York State were involved in a cheating scandal for the biggest exams of their academic careers: the ACT and SAT college entrance exams. Five of those students were accused of taking the tests for others and the other 15 allegedly paid those individuals between $500 and $3,600 to take the tests for them. One of the test takers was a guy who had been taking tests for girls with gender-neutral names; he had also been presenting test proctors with fake IDs.

To combat this, the College Board and ACT Education announced on March 27th that some additional security measures will be taken when students register for the college entrance exams. The changes – which will come into effect this fall – include students submitting a headshot of themselves when they register for the ACT or SAT; these photos will be printed on the test proctors’ rosters and on the students’ admission tickets and on test day, the proctors will compare the photos to the photo IDs that the students present to the students’ actual faces. Students will also have to identify their gender, date of birth and high school to prevent any other chance of mistaken identity.

So what do you think? Will these new identity verification measures prevent students from having others take the tests for them? This situation also presents another question: Is too much riding on a student’s standardized test scores? When one point can keep a student out of their dream school or prevent them from receiving a scholarship, what other factors should be considered in the college admissions process? It will be interesting to see how the SAT and ACT continue to change in upcoming years and how well the new changes will work this fall.

This past summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree and she is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University. Kara's writing has also been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.


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Words of Wisdom for the Wait-Listed

by Alexis Mattera

At this point in the college admissions cycle, most students have either been accepted, rejected or wait-listed; while the definitions of and actions associated with the first two outcomes are pretty clear (decide if you want to go or choose another school), things involving the third can be a little murky. What do you do if you find yourself in these waters? Here’s a much-needed paddle from the folks at The Choice blog:

Reevaluate: William Conley, dean of enrollment and academic services at Johns Hopkins University, suggests taking a second look at the school (or schools) you’ve been wait-listed at and deciding which you would realistically attend if you were accepted.

Respond: Some schools look at the time it takes students to reply to a wait-list notification; write a follow-up letter about why you want to go there or surrender your spot if the school isn’t the right fit for you as soon as possible, says veteran counselor Ted de Villefranca of the Peddie School in New Jersey.

Realize: A spot on the wait list is by no means a guarantee of admission – of the 996 students on Yale’s wait list last year, only 103 were accepted – so keep your expectations manageable in case you don’t get in.

Reach out...within reason: Mention only substantive information, says Jeffrey Brenzel, dean of admissions at Yale, and don’t overdo it. In that same vein, JHU’s Conley warns against constantly contacting the admissions staff, as your repeated calls and emails could be a turn-off.

You can read the rest of the experts’ tips here but we want to know if any of our readers are former wait-listers and, if so, what advice do you have for students who are in that position right now?


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Admitted Students Groups on Facebook Foster Connections, Put Freshmen at Ease

by Jacquelene Bennett

Starting college, meeting new people and living on your own for the first time can be both an exciting and terrifying experience for freshmen. Universities are trying to help quell concerns and ease the transition through the use of social media – specifically, colleges create Facebook groups for newly-admitted students that allow incoming freshmen and transfer students to join and interact with one another.

Every year, my school starts a group for in the incoming fall class and allows RAs, freshmen orientation leaders and current college students to join as well so that fall freshmen can get to know each other and current students before the academic year starts. New students ask current students about what kind of classes they should take, get advice on professors and find out what they should and shouldn’t bring with them for their dorm rooms.

Unlike your average campus tour, these groups allow students to ask questions about anything and everything. Students can use these groups to find out who will be living in their dorm hall, what to expect during freshmen orientation week, find people who have similar interests (intramural sports, dance company, etc.), voice concerns about class registration and ask questions that they can’t get answered anywhere else.

So if you are a newly-admitted college freshman, I suggest you join one of these groups and take advantage of the opportunities it presents. Use this medium to meet people, ask questions and to try to get a feel for how student life is going to be at the school.

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.


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Job Opportunities, Starting Salaries Increase for Class of 2012

by Alexis Mattera

Soon-to-be college grads will have a little more to cheer about as they toss their mortarboards in the air this year, as both job opportunities and starting salaries for new graduates have increased since last year.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers recently reported job openings for the class of 2012 are up 10 percent since last. With increased opportunities also come an uptick in starting salaries: The average for 2012 grads is $44,442, a 6.6-percent increase over the reported average salary of the class of 2011.

Of course, these numbers depend on the fields graduates plan to enter – starting salaries for those pursuing careers in education and economics increased more and are higher overall, respectively, than those going into health sciences – but it is nice to hear some mostly positive news about the impact of higher education. College seniors, does this information put you more at ease or increase your stress level as graduation day nears?


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Emergency Preparedness in College

by Radha Jhatakia

Emergency situations can arise anywhere and since they are seldom announced, college students should always be prepared for natural disasters, accidents and in-home emergencies.

Depending on what region of the country you live in, there are different natural disasters that are prone to occur including earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, blizzards and much more. For earthquakes especially, remember to hide under something sturdy or brace yourself in a doorway. For areas prone to tornadoes, there are sirens but since they often can’t be heard indoors, it may be necessary to purchase an in-home alert radio.

In instances of hurricanes and tsunamis, it is best to pack up necessities such as prescription medications, basic supplies and food right when the warning is given, then drive to a safe location as far inland as possible. Similar rules apply to blizzards as well: If you are snowed it, always make sure to have supplies in your home that can last for a long period of time. For any natural disaster, the key rule is to always make sure you have enough food and water for three days.

In addition to sustenance, make sure to have a first aid kit with band-aids, painkillers, gauze, alcohol wipes, antiseptic cream and wrap bandages – these are the basics for any minor injury and can stabilize a major injury until you can receive medical attention. Satellite radios/phones and flashlights with extra batteries are also good to have on hand at home and in your car, plus flares, jumper cables, a blanket/extra warm clothing and tools for a tire change.

A little preparedness goes a long way in an emergency. If you find yourself in any of the dangerous situations listed above, remain as calm as possible until help arrives or conditions improve.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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The Short & Tweet Scholarship Has Returned!

Earn $1,000 or a Kindle for College in 140 Characters or Fewer

April 2, 2012

The Short & Tweet Scholarship Has Returned!

by Alexis Mattera

Another academic year is winding down but before you turn your attention to summer jobs, internships and the occasional beach day, we have a question for you: What was the most important thing you learned this year and why? Not only could answering this question help provide some insight into your priorities for next year but it could also earn you $1,000 or a Kindle for college. That’s right: Scholarships.com's Short & Tweet Scholarship is BACK!

Was it a lecture or group project that stuck with you the most? A personal experience that changed your way of thinking? If it's important to you, we want to know! The challenge is that you have to tell us in 140 characters or fewer. Here's how to enter:

Step 1: Starting April 2nd, follow @Scholarshipscom on Twitter.

Step 2: Mention us (@Scholarshipscom) in a tweet answering the question "What was the most important thing you learned this year *AND* why?" Once you do this, you are entered to win a $1,000 scholarship or one of two Kindles.

Step 3: You may enter as many times as you want from April 2nd through May 14th but please limit your tweets to three per day. Each tweet will be a stand-alone entry and tweets that are submitted by non-followers, exceed 140 characters, do not include @Scholarshipscom, do not answer the entire question or are submitted after the May 14th deadline will not be considered. From there, the Scholarships.com Team will determine which comments are most deserving of the awards.

  • Starts: April 2nd
  • Ends: May 14th
  • Number Available: 3
  • Amount: $1,000 for one first-place winner; one Kindle each for second- and third-place winners

This scholarship competition is offered by Scholarships.com and is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Twitter.

For official rules, please click here.


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The Day I Discovered the Library

by Julius Clayborn

With my bed, refrigerator and everything else I could imagine within my reach, I thought my dorm room was the perfect study environment and I never explored other places on campus to review course material because I valued the comfort that my own space provided. As soon as I would begin my study sessions, however, I quickly became distracted by the very things that put me at ease. I would always conveniently end up sleeping the afternoon away for what I told myself would be only an hour-long nap.

I soon realized that my room was acting as a big hindrance to my academic performance and I knew I had to do something about it...fast. I had heard other students talk about this mystical place – a place on Cornell's campus that held all sorts of things like books, encyclopedias and, most importantly, quiet study spaces. I became curious as to where this place was and finally found my way there. Lo and behold, it was...the library! Once I sat down and studied, I saw the benefits immediately. The low volume really helped me to concentrate and the overall mellowness of the space worked in my favor. I covered so much more material and I was that much more prepared for class the next day. After I changed my study habits up and became more acquainted with the library, I saw a boost in my academic performance and had fewer stressful nights.

Convenience can come in all sorts of places so don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Now, I make more of an effort to tap into all of the things that I have been missing out on on campus; I'm so glad the library was one of them.

Julius Claybron was born on Chicago’s South Side in the Harold Ickes public housing projects. At the age of five, he lost his father to diabetes and was raised by his mother and grandmother, who helped him to enroll in Urban Prep Academy – a public all-male college-preparatory high school – during his sophomore year. Julius started to read when he was just two years old and still enjoys escaping into books during his spare time. He is a freshman at Cornell University, where he plans to double major in psychology and English literature.


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The Benefits of Summer Classes

by Kayla Herrera

The last thing college students want to think about at the end of the school year is summer classes but they aren't as bad of an idea as you may think. For example, I am a fourth-year student and I graduate next spring but if I wanted, I could graduate this coming fall if I took classes in the summer. Forget about the fact that they’ll take you away from beach days and midday picnicssummer classes can benefit students in many ways:

1. You'll graduate sooner. As a full-time student during the school year and at least a half-time student during the summer, you are guaranteed to graduate faster than if you did not take summer classes.

2. You'll keep your skills sharp. Taking summer classes keeps your brain pumped. For knowledge-hungry students, summer courses are just what you need to exercise your mind.

3. You'll get more attention. The lower number of students on campus during the summer means classes are smaller, allowing for more one-on-one time with professors and closer interaction between students.

4. You'll be able to learn leisurely. Your school days may be longer but doing homework under a breezy tree or studying next to the lake is way better than freezing to death in the back of the school library.

No matter your plans, consider summer classes. From my experience, taking a harder class during the summer tends to be a little easier than it would be during the traditional academic year. Cut you brain some slack and treat it to some pleasant schooling!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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March Madness Alternatives

by Darci Miller

They say that April showers bring May flowers but March brings March Madness. This is the time when college basketball fans feverishly compile brackets and glue themselves to their TVs. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all lost someone to March Madness, as the afflicted individual shuts themselves away from society for several weeks, but there’s always the chance that your bracketology wasn’t quite up to scratch this season. If your top seeds were eliminated early on, you may find yourself with a March entirely free from basketball obligations.

So what to do with yourself? Now that it’s officially springtime, you could always venture outdoors. Temperatures are rising and flowers are beginning to bloom, so there’s no better time to sit in a local park and take a break.

On the flip side, isn’t it just about time for midterms? I know it gets harder to study the warmer it gets (as I sit here watching interviews with “The Hunger Games” cast instead of writing a paper) but summer is on the horizon and I know you have some gas left in your tank, right? Hey, if I can write 2,000 words about Brutalist British architecture, you can handle your class assignments, too!

The coming of summer also means that the search for the perfect internship is in full swing. Though it’s fairly late in the season to be getting into the internship game, there are still countless positions looking to be filled. Now’s a great time to brush off your resume, hit up the campus career center and start applying.

Bank account looking a little dry? There’s never a wrong time to be applying for scholarships for next semester! (Though, if you’re reading this on the Scholarships.com blog, I’m sure you already know that!) Trust me: As someone who received a $4,500 stipend for a little extra study abroad wiggle room, I can tell you that it’s worth the effort.

See, just because your basketball team is a lost cause doesn’t mean March has to be!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier, the better!) and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big and believes the sky’s the limit. This semester, Darci is studying abroad in London and will share her international experiences here.


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From the ABCs to a BA: How Childhood Lessons Still Apply Today

by Angela Andaloro

As human beings living in an ever-changing world, we always have something new to learn. Some of us continue our education in pursuit of expanding our knowledge but it’s important to recognize that some of life’s most important lessons are the ones we learned early on as children. They’re also the lessons that can help you learn more, the easier way. Here are some examples:

Have manners. It’s so easy to forget how important it is to throw in a quick “please” or “thank you” but it can make all the difference. As a child, you’re constantly reminded to use your manners but as you get older, it’s up to you to remember. In your adult life, having manners can be important in your job search: Following up and saying “thank you” to someone for an interview can help you stand out from a pile of applications.

Find a way to remember things. Remember how much mnemonic devices helped us learn when we were younger? “PEMDAS” (or “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally”) helped us remember our order of operations in math so make up your own to help you remember things today, whether they’re for an exam or for a job. Giving your memory a boost will save you time in the long run.

Get organized ahead of time. Did anyone else have a homework sheet with a list of assignments that your parents had to sign and return to your teacher? It served its purpose: Writing things down helps us remember we have to do them and checking them off along the way gives us a feeling of accomplishment. Make lists of the things you have to do each day and make sure it’s all done when you’re ready to unwind at night.

Some of the things we learned as children may have seemed tedious at the time we were incorporating them into our everyday lives but they served a bigger purpose and will continue to help us in college and beyond. Have other childhood lessons that are still very important today? Let us know in the comments!

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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